kind of aloneness. That quiet burning of being in the cemetery after dark
with someone else who was not simply a person Kieran chose to be with
because they had the same mutual obsession or addiction or whatever-it-was-maybe-religion, just this other person sitting there breathing,
sitting on her butt, her knees brought up to her chest, her arms wrapped
around her legs, her head rested on one knee, looking either down at the
blinking city or at Kieran. Not saying anything. And how beautiful was
that? No talking. For once. Just sitting. Not doing anything, nothing
at all. This was the person, and there were moments when she reached
out and put a hand on his hand, and an electricity went between them.
The world rolled on. Sirens clamored for attention in the distance. Cars
passed among the houses and buildings. Those moments were incomprehensible, still, unrecognizable. They would then begin their walk
down among the great headstones and shadowed mausoleums beneath
a white, overbright moon, which lit their necessary journey. Yet, or
again, soon, after all that, that which was mysterious eventually gave
way to the ordinary. No touch worked, no city-view sparkled, no silent
commune occurred. What he did now was he lived with his Anne and
their daughter in their house among all the other houses and other lives,
which seemed, without close inspection, to be exactly alike, though
Kieran realized this wasn’t the case, though yes it was the case, and
all because of this climb with Brennan who would never climb again.
Without Brennan, no Annie. Brennan who would never boulder again.
Who would probably have a hard time hiking anything too steep. And
fuck, no way to still, no getting out, no way away, not only from this one
stuck world, but from himself. Poor Brennan. These necessary tools and
packs and foods were merely ancillary to the climb or the fly. The climb
was the rock itself. The jump was the jump itself. Being on the rock itself.
Flying the fly. Kieran and the rock, one conquering the other, which is
of course a beginner’s notion, a climber’s most clichéd notion, that one
actually conquers anything. Yet Kieran knew there was no other way to
put it except that way, “conquering,” though if pushed to come up with
another way of saying, which he often did to himself, it was you and the
rock, Kieran and the rock. And after the climb, that cleanness of mind,
with the Sierra riding along the horizon, stepping into sky, the valley
below pulsing with green and brown and the river coursing through it
all aglisten across the land. The memoryless mind now open and receiving all.
Come all ye faithful, Ian said.